Nature Photography  – Michigan Black Crowned Night Heron

On many an Early Morning in a Michigan Wetland – Wetland Habitats
Nycticorax nycticorax

Black Crowned Night Heron

I saw a rather strange looking bird. This bird wore a black thicket of slicked back feathers on top of it’s crown. A large red eye ball with a solid black marble for a pupil) in the middle. The black feathers flowed down it’s back ending just above the tail. Then there was the pure white plumage that covered the chest area and more silverish plumage of the scapulars and coverts on the sides of the Night Heron’s wings. Then we move on down to those alien looking feet. Feet that move like they have a mind of their own. The elongated feet can wrap around a thin branch and allow the bird to extend itself near horizontal reminding me of a human flag – only it’s an outstretched Black Crowned Heron.


black crowned night heron adult

black crowned night heron adult


The Michigan Black Crowned Night Heron is somewhat of a reclusive bird. The Black Crowned is a swift flyer and photographers love to catch a shot of the Night Heron in flight. The bird exibits characteristics that are similar to its other nearest neighbor in the Heron family; the Green Heron.

Michigan Black Crowned Night Heron

I will often spot a Black Crowned Night Heron perched high atop of tree stumps. When hunting, the Heron will typically sit on branches that are low to the waters surface and wait motionless for hours for unsuspecting prey. The bird can pounce in a split second and snap up lunch with its beak. While other times the Heron will dive off the branch and submerge its entire body under water to catch a meal. Sometimes you can watch several Black Crowned Night Herons referred to several different names; a rookery of herons, battery of scattering of herons. These groups of Night Herons will congregate, sit for a while, then causally fly off into the distant wetland one by one.


black crowned night heron - juvenile

black crowned night heron – juvenile


Black Night Heron Juvenile

The sun had not yet totally engulfed the scenery as the young juvenile I was watching was jumping from branch to branch. Half of the wetland was still under a shadow that was cast by a tall set of cottonwood trees located at the western end of the wetland. The place I was located was at the edge of the elongated shadow of the cottonwoods. The green milkweed shimmered as immature heron had just landed just a few feet from my hidden location. The sun rays also lit half of the wetlands surface producing an interesting backdrop for my over active Heron Juvenile that was moving closer to my concealed location.

The above shot of a Crowned Heron may be one of the best photographs I’ve managed to capture of a Black Capped Heron and with the soft bokeh in the background, the scenery of beauty lasted only minutes.


night heron

black crowned night heron michigan


Lessons Learned From Birds of Nature

The Michigan Black Crowned Night Heron is an elusive and vigilant bird. It scouts out a potential threats before settling into a location. This observant Night Heron or Heron Night (often called) will is also distinguished by its maternal parenting skills. I have observed the mature Heron play the role as coach, mentor and parent. On this particular occasion, the lesson of the moment to the young juvenile was how to catch fish for dinner. Under the watchful large red eye of the parent Michigan Black Crown Night Heron, the young juvenile heron was getting a hands-on lesson in survival.


black crown night heron in flight

black crown night heron in flight




About the Black Crowned Night Heron
Nature Photography – Michigan Bird Identification
Photo Taken: Lake Erie MetroPark
Group: Herons
Name: Black Crowned Night Heron

Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Ardeidae

The Michigan Black Night Heron is a 24 inch tall bird with a distinguished black cap of feathers located on top of its head or crown.

Color is top half black, underside white or silverish, female color is similar to the male, the juvenile is rather quite conspicuous with it’s spekled beige and white plummage, bright orange eyes and yellow beak.

Flight Characteristics:
Smooth wing beats, several flaps then pause that produce a smooth sustained glide in flight. The Black Night Heron is a swift flier.

The Michigan Black Crowned Night Heron prefers brushy dense thickets located in grasslands, lakes and wetlands.

Night Heron is colonial and will construct nest made of branches and twigs of various sizes. Nests are located fairly close to the ground, in trees or shrubs.

Incubates 3-4 pale green eggs for appx 21-26 days.

Mating Habits: The Black Night Heron’s mating habits are unconfirmed.

Feeding: Amphibians, fish, small mammals.

Call: Series of fluctuating deep guark, quarks.


Bird Conservation in Ohio
Michigan Bird Conservation Initiative
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Check the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for detailed information about the Michigan Night Heron;
Learn More… DNR Ohio


Nature Photography by Ike Austin – Michigan
Photography that is Therapy for the Soul
Michigan Birds

nature photography - michigan

Nature Photography by Ike Austin – Michigan
Photography that is Therapy for the Soul 

Michigan Birds


National Geographic

2011 Editors Choice Winning Photo

Birds Photography Night Heron

National Geographic 2011
View Entry on NG website… NG Contest Winners
To purchase Photo Art… DayStarBooks Gallery
To Purchase the I can Make It Fine Art Print… Dialog With Nature


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